This month, Big Project ME looks at how the UAE’s construction industry is working to change the way health and safety is approached in this country. With the international media having turned its spotlight on the region, the issues around health and safety have never been more pertinent.
That’s why I was surprised to find that while the safety aspect of the industry has made tremendous progress over the last few years, there are still serious gaps in the way we address health in construction.
When we talk about providing healthcare, it’s not just the physical wellbeing of an individual that we should be concerned about, it should also cover the psychological impact of being in a labour-intensive, high-stress environment.
In the article, we see that there is a growing realisation that the construction industry needs to do more about addressing occupational health hazards and long-term damage caused by working on a construction site. This deserves to be recognised and appreciated; however, it really isn’t.
Given that there have been numerous reported cases of workers suffering from mental health issues, international human rights organisations have pleaded for the region’s governments to provide support and backing for labourers who face these problems.
As admirable as this stance is, it’s only really effective if the construction industry itself takes a more active role in promoting awareness and education of mental health issues to the people who need it most, the workers who build these projects.
Having mental health professionals available to the workers, which would allow them to express their stresses and worries in a safe and controlled environment, could also be another viable option to prevent more serious problems down the line.
There are encouraging signs throughout the region, with a number of countries revising their laws to to ensure that workers receive adequate healthcare and safety. Now we need to ensure that their mental health receives the same attention.